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Research and development for LIFE

This element of the partnership focuses on prototyping regenerative luxury through design research across disciplines. This new strand incorporates projects, exhibitions and publications working closely with the LVMH Environment team and LIFE 360, the LVMH environment strategy.

Selected projects

Material innovation for luxury stores

A Maison/0 graduate project, commissioned by LVMH for LVMH Climate Week 2020

Collection En Route

Six square tiles featuring various textures and colours

Brigitte Kock (MA Materials Futures) and Irene Roca Moracia (MA Design (Furniture))

How can invasive species be used to create luxurious materials while improving our local biodiversity?

‘Invasive non-native species are one of the top five threats to biodiversity worldwide [] They cost the UK economy £1.8 billion per year, mainly affecting agriculture, forestry, horticulture, utilities, construction and transport infrastructure.’ [ - PDF]

The starting point for this collection was to explore new value propositions for the use of two invasive species in the UK: Japanese knotweed and the American Signal Crayfish. By creating scalable material processes for the creation of concrete-like materials made from wood ash and powdered crayfish shells (the by-products of the removal of the species), designer Brigitte Kock and architect Irene Roca Moracia have created a range of new bioceramic tiles.

They chose to revisit the traditional fabrication of wood ash cement established by the Romans and adapted this ancestral recipe to the use of Japanese knotweed ash and signal crayfish shell powder. The dark burgundy colour appears instantly as the ingredients are mixed and is not the result of any added colourant. These new bioceramic tiles also get stronger with time, like their Roman ancestors. By creating added value to materials derived from invasive species, this project has the potential to incentivise further the removal of invasive species, thus leading to restoring our biodiversity.

Collection En Route


Six square tiles with various textures and patterns

Riina Oun (MA Material Futures) and Olivia Page (M ARCH: Architecture)

How can we generate new materials for luxury based on a bio-circular regional approach?

For every ton of olives we grow, we can extract 0.2 tons of olive oil, leaving 0.8 tons of olive pomace which contains large amounts of potentially hazardous substances and phytotoxic compounds. Disposing of olive pomace safely poses serious environmental concerns. [] Portuguese-based architect Olivia Page and material designer Riina Oun chose to explore the potential of olive pomace for material fabrication: in Portugal alone 800 000 tons of waste pomace is generated every year. The design concept then expanded to sourcing a broader range of regional Portuguese agricultural waste and renewable raw materials to produce a final collection of bio-circular tiles for luxury stores. Ingredients include propolis waste (in Portugal 90% of propolis is thrown away), olive pomace, beehive waste, alginate and labdanum wax derived from abundant local Cistus plants. The final material collection showcases how different combinations of these ingredients can lead to a wide range of solid materials with different colours and finishes. The olive pomace has also been successfully tested as a ceramic glaze on a traditional clay base tile.


The Compost Atelier

Six square tiles with various textures and patterns

Part of 'Material innovation for luxury stores', a Maison/0 Graduates project, commissioned by LVMH for LVMH Climate week 2020.

Emily Boxall (MA Material Futures) and Sean T Ross (MA Material Futures)

How can we collaborate with living organisms to develop bio-based patterning techniques for wood?

This design projects relies on nature’s rhythm to create wood patterning processes in collaboration with wood-eating insects, soil microbial lifeforms and bacteria that naturally express colours for bio-tanning. By observing how vermi-etching and bio-tanning occurs in natural wood habitats and in soil, material designers Emily Boxall and Sean T Ross have developed a proof of concept collection to showcase the potential for collaborative crafting with composting bioforms.

They propose to create a Compost Luxury Atelier for the slow production of naturally-patterned wood. This is a radical slow luxury project which resonates with time-aged wine and spirit production as it would take a minimum of six months and up to several decades to produce vermi-etched and bacterial engraved wood. Soft and hardwood materials would respond differently to the bacterial aging process and each piece of wood harvested from the Compost Atelier would be unique. Some samples could be pre-crafted by humans (as suggested with the inlay mahogany sample) before to be processed by non-humans (composting micro-organisms). Bacterial colouring can be applied at the end of the process. Once harvested the wood samples can be steamed clean, waxed or oiled.

The Compost Atelier

Projects archive

Designing in Turbulent Times exhibition film, London Design Festival 2019